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handmade nation


Last night I went to see the SF screening of Faythe Levine’s Handmade Nation, in which she documents the rise of the d.i.y. craft movement in cities across the U.S.. It was amazing to see so many people excited about the subject, and in fact the show sold out shortly after the doors opened. I was inspired by much of the movie, but I was especially interested in some of the commentary, throughout the movie and during the discussion afterward, dealing with WHY we make things. A lot of it centered around the political: anti-corporate, anti-consumerist, environmentally friendlier, punk rock. Some makers cited growing up with the traditions, others viewed their crafts – especially needlework – as a feminist reclaiming of “womens’ work”. There was even discussion of the current economy, and whether it would drive people to make their own items or turn more readily to cheaper goods from Walmart and Target. It’s an issue I think about a lot, and I’m really curious about what drives others to create. Any designers or crafters out there want to weigh-in? What makes you want to make things?




  • Candied Fabrics

    I began making things because I wanted something and couldn’t afford it. This is why I became a quilter, way back! To this day, my husband and I do lots of things ourselves because we don’t want to spend (and/or don’t have) the money – from making curtains, (me) and fixing simple leaks, (him) to installing hardwood floors, redoing a kitchen, enclosing a porch (both of us, but him more than me!). We usually end up with a result that we like, along with the satisfaction that we did it ourselves, usually as well or better than if we’d hired someone.

    Along with making things to save money (which also is getting something we want sooner) I have become an artist of sorts. The making that I do as an artist is something I don’t have that much control over – I HAVE to make something, and if a few weeks go by and i haven’t, then woe is my family – I get downright ornery! I’ve begun selling my art, which allows me to support this need to make things. A great bonus to this is that I can grow as an artist without spending family money on supplies!

    Phew! Long comment! Great question! And I LOVE your birds!

  • Karen

    For me, it’s meditative. I love making things because of how it makes me feel to put something together with my own hands. So it’s the process as much as the product. I love sewing and I (usually) love what I end up with. A lot of times I’m sad to mail my things off to people because it’s hard to let them go.

    I also sew some of my clothes, and I like knowing nobody else is wearing what I have on. It’s also great when someone asks me where I got an item that I made for myself.

  • monaluna

    thanks for the comments, guys! i have pretty similar motivations. mainly, once i have an idea for something or get inspired, i can’t NOT make it. the idea nags at me until i do. that being said, i have a long, long list of projects that are waiting to be created. but there’s definitely something else there, too – i’ll see something i really like in a store, but often it inspires me to want to make something rather than just buy the thing i’ve seen. buying would be so much faster! but much less rewarding, i suppose.

  • Fine in '09

    I agree with everything already said. But also I believe that these things are an art that everyone two generations ago knew and have become nearly extinct. (take tatting and candle wicking) Granted machines can do things faster, but hand crafted goods are so much more precious. I have some beautiful heirloom pieces from my great grandmother (who is from Ukraine) that are stunning. What do we have that are heirlooms for our children and grandchildren from us? That bookcase from Walmart/Target isn’t going to make it that long (even worse is $1 stores). (don’t get me wrong, I shop both places too, especially Target) But are we wasting our precious resources and filling up landfills to get the latest trends just replace them a few years later?
    I have been trying to focus more on things I can make, not just because I’m trying to be cheap, but because I want it to be treasured and show my family and neices and nephews that I love them enough to spend time to make them something, and make it nice. I am just fortunate not to have to work and be able to have time to do this sort of thing.

    There’s my two cents! Thanks!

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